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‘A Discouraging Story’: Teachers Continue To Flee Profession Years After Pandemic

Teachers are still fleeing schools in higher numbers than before the pandemic as schools continue to reel from the COVID-19 pandemic’s fallout, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Data collected from 10 states shows that teachers are departing schools at a higher rate than before the COVID-19 pandemic, though the rate has dropped from its peak in 2022, according to the WSJ. Experts and educators said teachers are leaving for multiple reasons, including worsening student behavior and stagnating salaries.

“It’s almost like preparing for a circus or a theater performance — every day you have to show up and do a show,” Betsy Sumner, a teacher in Virginia, told the WSJ. “It’s just not really sustainable.”

“This is still a discouraging story,” Katharine Strunk, dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, told the WSJ. “I don’t think this level of consistent attrition is sustainable for the school system.”

In some places like Hawaii and South Carolina, the increase in teacher turnover was small. But in other states like Arkansas, North Carolina and Virginia teachers left in much higher numbers than before the pandemic.

Some educational research has linked high teacher turnover in schools to lower student performance.

“The candidate pool is not there in Virginia and nationwide right now,” Paul Pack, an elementary school principal in Loudoun County, told the WSJ. Pack’s school couldn’t find teachers for two openings this school year.

Students in the U.S. experienced a 13-point fall in their 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores in comparison to the results of 2018. Nearly 70% of students in the U.S. attended schools experiencing chronic absenteeism during the 2021-2022 academic year.

“There used to be a line out the door of elementary teachers,” Guilford County, North Carolina superintendent Whitney Oakley, told the WSJ. “That is no longer the case.”

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